The final episodes of long-running TV shows can be major cultural events—the country just about shut down for the final chapters of Seinfeld, Cheers, and M*A*S*H, for example. But life isn’t fair, and neither is TV, when it comes to these iconic TV shows that didn’t get a proper sendoff.
Law & Order
For 20 seasons—the most ever for a drama, tied with Gunsmoke—Law & Order used a very successful formula. The episode opens with the discovery of a murder victim, police investigate, and catch the culprit. That’s the “law” section. The second half of the hour-long episode then revolved around the courtroom proceedings for the murder case. It was such a tried-and-true method that the last episode of Law & Order was a typical low-key entry, as producers didn’t get the axe until after it was filmed and edited.
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
The Superman movie franchise fizzled out in 1987 with the low-budget, box-office bomb Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. The Man of Steel returned to screens in 1993 via the quirky ABC romantic dramedy Lois & Clark. Built around a love triangle of sorts between Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and Superman, the show was abruptly canceled after its fourth season…which ended on a cliffhanger. Lois and Clark are together, and Lois knows Clark is Superman (nice try, glasses!), and a baby from Superman’s planet of Krypton is mysteriously left in their care.
The Brady Bunch
The ultimate ’70s sitcom aired the final episode of its fifth season in 1974. It’s a pretty standard entry in the Brady canon: Bobby Brady is trying to make money by selling a hair tonic, and Greg takes pity on him and buys a bottle…and it turns his hair bright orange, just days before his high school graduation. After it aired, ABC told Brady Bunch producers that the show was dead.